3 enticing trades that will launch the Tampa Bay Lightning into serious Stanley Cup contention

The Tampa Bay Lightning don’t look like a surefire top-three team in the Atlantic Division, but adding one more puzzle piece or two could change that.

Nashville Predators v Montreal Canadiens
Nashville Predators v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Anthony Mantha can fuel scoring depth on the lower lines

If the Lightning surprise us and decide not to trade for a defenseman to provide much-needed help in the wake of Sergachev’s injury and land a scorer to try and win with an all-out offensive approach, then Anthony Mantha makes sense. While it would be tough to see something like this occurring, we know the Lightning have been a score-first team this season, so it’s at least worth discussing. 

Although the Capitals have struggled to find the net this season, Mantha has been the outlier, with 16 goals and an incredible 20.5 shooting percentage. His presence in Tampa will give them one more incredible scoring threat at winger, and it could even force opponents to keep up with the Lightning on the scoreboard. 

While Tampa would still be strapped for cash here, the Capitals should be willing to provide relief by retaining 45 percent of his contract. This shouldn’t be much of an issue, as Manta will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. 

As shown in the previous trade, Tampa would provide an identical package to the Caps, with second-round picks in 2025 and 2026, plus a third in 2024. Barre-Boulet and Fleury would be used here again as well, since the Caps would be under no obligation to keep them for another season as they are both pending unrestricted free agents.

The goal for Washington in this trade is simply to put themselves in a better position regarding the salary cap for 2024-25, so the move makes sense for the rest of the league year.